In this episode of Qigong Radio, I answer some questions about different sensations readers have been experiencing when they practice.
Expect Chi Reactions
Dragon and Tiger is a powerful tool for awakening your body on physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. As you practice these movements and begin to move your body in ways that may be different for you, energy and fluids in your body are stirred up and begin to move more vigorously. At some point you may experience reactions that may seem either positive or negative to you. These are called chi reactions: the body’s response to the effects of energy beginning to flow more freely through previously blocked places.
These reactions may show up immediately, hours after practicing, or even a day or two later. Although many people will not begin to feel either negative or positive reactions without practicing a lot, others, particularly if they have done other forms of personal development work, may notice reactions almost immediately.
Positive Chi Reactions
Positive reactions can range from feeling less pain and having more energy to being more centered, relaxed and comfortable with your body. Some people report that they sleep much better; others report greater flexibility and balance. You may also notice that you are calmer and have fewer mood swings. You may experience an overall reduction in stress and tension.
A transformative effect that most people consider positive, is an increase in and awareness of sexual energy. This is entirely normal as it is the most fundamental energy in your body, and practice of Dragon and Tiger will increase sexual energy. Finally, a transformative effect that confuses many people is what we call “good pain.”
Dragon and Tiger is designed to gradually work more and more deeply into your body, to release muscles and other tissues and joints that have been restricted or blocked. When an area of your body that has been frozen begins to loosen and realign, more energy moves through that area than you are used to. But if the energy cannot flow freely or fully, you may experience temporary pain in the area.
The Chinese medical theory of the body holds that pain in an area is a sign that the energy there is not flowing freely. You feel “bad” pain when an area is newly injured or hurt. In general, “good” pains tend to be temporary (lasting from a minute to at most a couple of days) and are usually dull, rather than sharp. As you practice you will learn to recognize such pains as signs of progress. Treat them with great care and keep within the 40 to 50 percent rule when you have pain, illness or injury (see p. 7). Back off practicing and be sure to consult your healthcare provider if you begin experiencing either significant pain or pain that does not go away quickly.
Negative Chi Reactions
As your body wakes up on various levels, it may do so the same way as when aroused from a deep slumber —cranky, sore and confused. You may experience some negative chi reactions. These can range from relatively mild but confusing aches, nausea, light-headedness, tingles, fatigue, unsteadiness, body temperature shifts or mood changes to strong emotional releases and mood swings to unusual dreams or shifts in perception. You may also experience physical discharges, such as stronger body odors or more frequent bowel movements.
As blocked and stagnant energy moves or leaves the body, energetic memories that are associated with the problem, stored in either your energy channels or physical tissue can awaken and cause you to relive the underlying and often repressed causes of the problem—especially if you have a severe condition.
You might experience what doctors refer to as a “healing crisis.” The term refers to that time during healing when a patient’s body temporarily feels worse before it feels better. For example, when the body burns out infections, the patient often has a high fever. When the fever breaks, the symptoms of the disease pass. The fever may cause the patient to feel terrible, until the stored toxins or blocked energy are released. Afterwards the individual feels better as the illness passes.
All these reactions are common to many natural forms of healing and are often a sign that your body is cleansing itself. Many people have a healing crisis when they fast or switch to a cleansing or vegetarian diet. The practice of Dragon and Tiger may often trigger such effects; they are fairly normal reactions. What is important to remember is that these reactions are temporary and usually pass when your body begins to rebalance itself.
If you begin to experience strong or uncomfortable sensations, immediately sit down, put your hands on your belly and gently breathe with your belly to ground and center yourself. Such sensations will usually pass within minutes. Then suspend or reduce your practice for a while. Start again by following the 20 percent or 40 percent rule and very gently explore your body’s reactions to these practices. Remember that you are not alone in such experiences; almost everyone who practices will experience some of these reactions at some time.
If the symptoms are intense, pull back your practice to 30 percent or 40 percent of what you consider your normal practice and consult with your teacher. Remember to drink plenty of water. Water helps accelerate the release of toxins. Taking some vitamin C also helps that process. Make sure you rest after practicing. Be sure to consult a healthcare professional immediately if you have any symptoms that might be a sign of a medical or psychological problem.
Listen to the episode to find out how to apply this principles to rising energy, activating the lower tantien, and differentiating between nerve flow, blood flood, and normal physical movement.